13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
These words are the culmination of our faith, the glue that binds together the previous twelve declarations of belief. Elder James E Talmage said of this article “in this article of their faith, the Latter-day Saints declare their acceptance of a practical religion; a religion that shall consist, not alone of confessions of spiritual matters, and belief as to the conditions of the hereafter…but…of present and every-day duties, in which proper respect for self, love for fellow men, and devotion to God are the guiding principles.” In other words, this article is about what we believe we must do in order to truly be saved.
“Behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” declared the great Jehovah to His prophet Moses Moses 1:39). The three-fold mission of the Church–to perfect the saints, redeem the dead, and declare the gospel–embodies this decree. By being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men, we can’t help but lead souls to Christ. We show the pure love of Christ, which is Charity.
To me, two things in this verse stand out: charity and endurance.
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:47-48)
When we are filled with charity, we are true, chaste, benevolent, and so forth. We have hope; we have the belief necessary to be saved.
So how do we get this Charity? Robert L Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie in their excellent commentary on the book of Mormon explain:
“It is bestowed by God. One does not ‘work on’ his charity any more than he might work on his prophecy, dreams, visions, or discernment. Charity is that “more excellent way” that comes by and through the Holy Ghost as one of the gifts of God…. Charity is the ‘highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ….Charity is that gift of the Spirit which motivates us to greater goodness, specifically greater service and compassion for other….We can serve people without loving them; we cannot truly love them (as the Lord does) without serving them.”
They go on to say “the purpose of charity is not just to motivate us to Christian service, but also to sanctify us from sin and prepare us not only to be with God but also to be like him.” 1 Peter 4:8 says “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves:for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Charity helps us to become who we need to become. Bruce C Hafen said “The ultimate purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to cause the sons and daughters of God to become as Christ.”
To me, this is the very essence of the 13th Article of Faith. Charity: that Christ-centered love meant to prepare us for exaltation.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (Moroni 7:45)
Again we have the believe, hope, endure message. This phrase seems to crop up over and over throughout the scriptures. In my experience, when the Lord repeats himself it is probably something worth listening to.
I love how the scriptures seem to often put charity and endurance side by side. Moroni, still in chapter 7, says “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail.” Charity leads us to endurance. In fact, charity is an essential component to enduring to the end.
What does it mean to endure? According to the dictionary, it means to suffer something painful or difficult patiently. When I think of enduring, it reminds me of the Prophet Joseph Smith and all that he went through. When he was in Carthage, he offered a prayer asking the Lord here he was and why He was not helping his suffering saints. Doctrine and Covenants 121 contains the prayer and Heavenly Father’s reply: “7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; 8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.”
That last part is the important part. We must endure the trials we face, true, but we must also endure them well. When we do, we become worthy of the glory of God. We can become like him.
In closing, the thirteenth article of faith is about how we can use the previous twelve to grow closer to God. It is how we can become more Christ-like in all we do. For Christ surely is the epitome of charity and he endured well all the trials that His Father charged him with. We must pray for charity and sacrifice all we can to be able to endure to the end. Only then can we truly endure all things.
To quote Joseph Smith in the Lectures on Faith:
“5 For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge: realizing, that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest; and be a partaker of the glory of God.
6 For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator, were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God.
7 Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.”
By believing that God lives, hoping that we can—and must—do all that we are commanded, and enduring all trials that we face, we can know that we are worthy of eternal life. We can know that by doing these things we are seeking anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy. We fulfill the admonition of Paul. That we all may do these things is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.